POLK COUNTY, FL (WFLA) – We now know more about the five men who lost their lives Monday in a horrific crash in Hernando County. Apolinar Nunez, Guillermo Chavez, Jose Gomez, Santos Vega and Felipe Cruz were electricians, fathers and brothers who were taken in an instant. Their pickup truck was hit by a box truck at the intersection of Citrus Way and Ponce De Leon Boulevard. Then it burst into flames. The Highway Patrol reports the box truck driver failed to stop at the stop-sign.
This story is even more heart-wrenching when you see the lives impacted by the tragedy. Combined- seven children are now without their father. Guillermo Chavez earned a reputation as a father who adored his children. And his fiance is struggling to accept the fact he’s not coming home.
“Since I haven’t seen him, part of me still says maybe it wasn’t him in the truck maybe he’s out there somewhere- maybe he’s going to call or he’s going to walk through that door anytime,” Eva Garcia said. Apolinar Nunez leaves behind three children. His sister, Maria, spoke in Spanish Thursday of his warm smile and caring heart while his niece followed with translation. “He was a really great father- loving caring- just all about his children,” the women said of Nunez. “he always told us to smile through everything he always had a really big bright smile on his face.”
Seven children losing their father is another painful effect through the tragedy. But they are living proof that their father’s spirit will live on. “He left a part of him for I can keep to myself here, for I can love – he’s not completely gone,” Garcia said. Right now the families are going through the painful process of planning to bury their loved ones. Their employer Wingate Communications has set up a fund at Mid-Florida Credit Union to help support the seven children of the men.
Wingate sent this information to the media on Thursday:
“We are extremely saddened by this tragic accident. Our thoughts and prayers are with our lost employees’ families at this time. The loss of five lives is a humbling and heart wrenching experience for all involved. Wingate Communications is a family and we will grieve and work together as families do to get through tough times. There is a memorial fund set up for donations to help support the lost employees’ seven minor children. The Fund’s name is Wingate Communications Lost Employees Children’s Memorial Fund. The fund is being set up on Go Fund Me and through MIDFLORIDA. Donations can be made on the Go Fund Me Web site under the memorial’s name or a donation can be made to the fund through Direct Deposits and ACH transactions to MIDFLORIDA Routing Number 263179804. Memorial Account Number 121914321.”